09 October 2009
Researchers at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, USA have identified genetic material (DNA) from a mouse virus - murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) - in 68 out of 101 CFS patients (67%) compared to 8 out of 218 (3.7%) of healthy people.
Further blood tests showed that more than 95% of CFS patients have antibodies to XMRV, indicating they had been infected with the virus, which may then have lain dormant in their DNA.
Dr Judy Mikovits, research director, Whittemore Peterson Institute, is testing a further 500 blood samples collated from patients diagnosed with CFS in London.
Although the sample is small, the results are very promising.
Sir Peter Spencer, CEO of Action for M.E., the UK's biggest M.E. charity, says:
"It is still early days so we are trying not to get too excited but this news is bound to raise high hopes among a large patient group that has been ignored for far too long.
"If the researchers can go on to prove a definitive cause and effect between this retrovirus and M.E., it will make an enormous difference to 250,000 British men, women and children who have M.E. in this country.
"Action for M.E. has long been calling on the UK Government to invest more in research into the causes of this horrible illness. Once we know the cause, researchers can start working on more effective treatments, preventive measures and ultimately a cure for M.E."
Read the study, commentary, press release and this morning’s lead story in the Independent.